Mince pies are one of the best British, Christmas traditions. They are individual mini pies with sweet filling of fruit and spices known as mincemeat, encased in a buttery pastry.
Homemade mince pies are one of the best parts of the Christmas season in England. They have been a tradition since the 1700s, and this was started so they could be left as gifts for Santa, along with a little brandy.
America serves cookies and milk; England serves pies and booze.
They originally did not start out as sweet pies, they used to have a savory filling. Along with the fruit, shredded meats like lamb or mutton were added, but that evolved into just the sweet filling today.
The custom from way back used to be, if you ate a mince pie every day from Christmas until January, you will happiness for the next year. This sounds like a great reason to eat lots of pies Christmas.
In England, there are two types of mince pies, sweet and savory. Now, this can get a little confusing so to discern one from the other, one might say ‘sweet mince pies’ when referring to the sweet, Christmas pie recipe.
They are not typically mentioned until the holidays, so when someone says mince pie all the other time of the year, they are referring to savory.
There is one ingredient that is in this recipe that is not traditional, and that is butter. Suet (which is beef fat) is always used in the U.K., and this comes in a shredded form.
Since suet is not readily available to me here in the U.S., I grated cold butter to give a similar effect, and seemed to work out well.
These sweet pies are delicious served with whipped cream, or just on their own with a snifter of brandy, just like Santa.
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